Congregation at Duke Chapel

Changing Trends in Global Christianity

For the ears, you can listen to an audio recording [high fidelity audio playable under all personal computer operating systems via VLC media player, Microsoft Windows Media Player with the Xiph.org codecs for FLAC et al, OS X QuickTime with the XiphQT plugin, etc., on many Android-based mobile devices, and on iOS-based mobile devices via apps such as FLAC Player or Golden Ear]

Emerging Trends in Global Christianity

presentation at Adult Forum by
Lynn Holmes
Divinity School Intern with the Congregation
November 25, 2018

How much do you know about the world's Christian population?


"Over the last century ... the center of gravity of the Christian world has shifted inexorably away from Europe, southward to Africa and Latin America, and eastward toward Asia."

from Philip Jenkins, The Next Christendom, 2002


  • Over the next four decades, Christians will remain the largest religious group, but Islam will grow faster than any other major religion. If current trends continue, by 2050 ...
  • The number of Muslims will nearly equal the number of Christians around the world.
  • Atheists, agnostics and other people who do not affiliate with any religion - though increasing in countries such as the United States and France - will make up a declining share of the world's total population.
  • The global Buddhist population will be about the same size it was in 2010, while the Hindu and Jewish populations will be larger than they are today.

Source: Pew Research


  • In Europe, Muslims will make up 10% of the overall population.
  • India will retain a Hindu majority but also will have the largest Muslim population of any country in the world, surpassing Indonesia.
  • In the United States, Christians will decline from more than three-quarters of the population in 2010 to two-thirds in 2050, and Judaism will no longer be the largest non-Christian religion. Muslims will be more numerous in the U.S. than people who identify as Jewish on the basis of religion.
  • Four out of every 10 Christians in the world will live in sub-Saharan Africa.

Source: Pew Research: The Future of World Religions


Size and Projected Growth of Major Religious Groups
 
  2010 population % of world population in 2010 Projected 2050 population % of world population in 2050 Population Growth 2010-2050
Christians 2,168,330,000 31.4% 2,918,070,000 31.4% 749,740,000
Muslims 1,599,700,000 23.2   2,761,480,000 29.7   1,161,780,000
Unaffiliated 1,131,150,000 16.4   1,230,340,000 13.2   99,190,000
Hindus 1,032,210,000 15.0   1,384,360,000 14.9   352,140,000
Buddhists 487,760,000 7.1   486,270,000 5.2   -1,490,000
Folk Religions 404,690,000 5.9   449,140,000 4.8   44,450,000
Other Religiions 58,150,000 0.8   61,450,000 0.7   3,300,000
Jews 13,860,000 0.2   16,090,000 0.2   2,230,000
World total 6,895,850,000 100.0   9,307,190,000 100.0   2,411,340,000

Source: The Future of World Religions: Population Growth Projections, 2010-2050
Pew Research


Estimated Distribution of Christian Population by Country and Territory in 2010

Only the 115 countries with more than 1 million Christians in 2010 are shown. world map with graphical representation of Christians per country


Growing shares of Christians and Muslims expected to live in sub-Saharan Africa

Declining shares of the world's Muslim and unaffiliated populations will live in Asia and the Pacific

Estimated percentage of religious group living in each region graph

Source: Pew Research Center demographic projections. See Methodology for details.
"The Changing Global Religious Landscape"
Pew Research Center


Christians are the largest religious group in 2015

graph

Source: Pew Research Center demographic projections. See Methodology for details.
"The Changing Global Religious Landscape"
Pew Research Center


Islam Growing Fastest

Muslims are the only major religious group projected to increase faster than the world's population as a whole.

Estimated change in population size, 2010-2050 graph

Source: The Future of World Religions: Population Growth Projections, 2010-2050
Pew Research Center


Christianity in its Global Context, 1970-2020
Center for the Study of Global Christianity

Follow the link to see a video by Todd Johnson.


Christianity in its Global Context, 1970-2020
Center for the Study of Global Christianity
Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary
June 2013

Key Findings:

A religious world

For the period 1970-2020, several global trends related to religious affiliation are apparent. In 1970, nearly 82% of the world's population was religious. By 2010 this had grown to around 88%, with a projected increase to almost 90% by 2020. Religious adherence is growing largely due to the continuing resurgence of religion in China. In addition, in 1970 Christianity and Islam represented 48.8% of the global population; by 2020 they will likely represent 57.2%. The global North is becoming more religiously diverse, with more countries becoming home to a greater number of the world's religions. However, religious diversity is decreasing in many countries in the global South with the growth of mainly one religion, most commonly Christianity or Islam.


Christianity in its Global Context, 1970-2020
Center for the Study of Global Christianity

Shift of Christianity to the South

The twentieth century experienced the great shift of Christianity to the global South, a trend that will continue into the future. In 1970, 41.3% of all Christians were from Africa, Asia, or Latin America. By 2020, this figure is expected to be 64.7%. Between 1970 and 2020, each of the six major Christian traditions is expected to grow more rapidly than the general population in the global South. Simultaneously, Christianity is declining as a percentage of the population in the global North at a dramatic rate. Birth rates in many European countries in particular are below replacement level, and populations are aging.


Christianity in its Global Context, 1970-2020
Center for the Study of Global Christianity

Regional changes in Christianity

Christianity is expected to grow as a proportion of Africa's population, from 143 million in 1970 (38.7% of the continent's population), to 630 million by 2020 (49.3%) In Asia, Christianity is growing more than twice as fast as the general population, mostly through conversions, though it is still a minority religion there (only 8.2% in 2010). In Europe, Latin America, and Northern America Christianity is declining as a percentage of the population. Latin American Christians, however, represent an increasing share of the global Christian population, up from 22.0% in 1970 to 23.5% by 2020, and Evangelical and Renewalist Christianity is growing rapidly there. In Europe, individuals are increasingly leaving the faith, mainly to agnosticism and atheism, and many European countries have rapidly aging populations and birth rates below replacement level. A new trend in Northern America is the rise of the unaffiliated (those who would check "none of the above" on a survey about religion), both religious and non-religious. The internal makeup of Christianity in Oceania is expected to change due to secularization, missionary efforts, and immigration, with increasing Orthodox, Marginal, and Independent communities.


Christianity in its Global Context, 1970-2020
Center for the Study of Global Christianity

Growing Renewalist Movements

Pentecostal and Charismatic churches are best conceptualized as part of a single, interconnected set of movements (together called "Renewalists") of three distinct types (Pentecostals, Charismatics, and Independent Charismatics). Renewalists numbered 62.7 million in 1970 and are expected to grow to 709.8 million by 2020. In 1970, Renewalists were 5.1% of all Christians, but by 2010 they had grown to 25.8% (averaging 4.1% growth per year between 1970 and 2010). Looking forward to 2020, it is expected that Renewalist movements will grow almost twice as fast as global Christianity as a whole, to represent 27.8% of all Christians. Renewalists grew the fastest in Asia and Latin America over the 40-year period and will grow most rapidly in Asia and Africa over the 10-year period. The growth of Renewalist Christianity in these three areas has been astounding: from 18.8 million in 1970 to 226.2 million by 2020 in Africa, from 12.8 million to 203.1 million in Latin America, and from 9.3 million to 165.6 million in Asia.


Christianity in its Global Context, 1970-2020
Center for the Study of Global Christianity

Personal contact with Christians

The data on personal contact have their origins in a simple concept: proximity. The countries in which there is least personal contact between religionists are overwhelmingly Muslim-majority countries. On a regional basis, only 10% of individuals in Western Asia and 11% in Northern Africa are thought to have personal contact with a Christian. Atheists and agnostics have more contact with Christians than do most other religionists. In one sense this is not surprising, given that many non-religionists, at least in the global North and Latin America, are former Christians. More surprising, however, is that agnostics have less contact with Christians than do atheists. Globally, Muslims have less contact with Christians than do Jews; in some individual regions Muslim contact is much higher than average, while for Jews this is not the case. High levels of contact by atheists and agnostics mask low levels of contact among religious populations in many parts of the world. In Northern America, for example, 80% of other religionists have personal contact with a Christian. Removing atheists and agnostics from the calculation reduces the figure to only 40%. The decline is even greater in Northern Europe, from 82% to 21%. However, more religious people know a Christian in Western Africa (24%) than is true for any region in Europe


Christianity in its Global Context, 1970-2020
Center for the Study of Global Christianity

Mission and social justice

In a twenty-first-century context, an increasing number of Christians are recognizing the need for mission and social justice to go hand-in-hand. As a result, this report presents findings concerning both, including missionaries sent and received, peoples in migration, slum dwellers, and global poverty. Countries of the global South are sending increasing numbers of international missionaries, and countries of the global North are receiving increasing numbers of missionaries. Among key social issues, the poorest children have made the slowest progress in terms of improved nutrition, and hunger remains a global challenge. Between 2006 and 2009, 850 million people around the world still lived in hunger, 15.5% of the world's population. Even though extreme poverty has decreased, progress has been slow in reducing child malnutrition. In 2010, nearly one in five children globally was underweight, including one third of children in Southern Asia. Each of the major Christian traditions has over time developed strong theological foundations for social action and is actively engaged today. Current efforts tend to dovetail with those initiated by the United Nations and individual governments.


Christianity in its Global Context, 1970-2020
Center for the Study of Global Christianity

Summary

Christianity in its Global Context, 1970-2020: Society, Religion, and Mission illustrates that fundamental shifts in the demographics of global Christianity and religion are continuing into the twenty-first century. The percentage of Christians from the global South is still increasing, but the personal contact gap between Christians and non-Christians continues to be very wide. Christians are also struggling, along with the entire development community, to address critical social and economic issues. A central problem appears to be uneven resource distribution in a multitude of areas. Christian resources are poorly deployed and not reaching those who could benefit most from them, in terms of both mission and social action. Yet, Christian involvement in spiritual and social transformation has never been greater, and it remains to be seen how effective Christians in both the North and the South will be in carrying out global, integral mission.


Christianity in its Global Context, 1970-2020
Center for the Study of Global Christianity

Definitions

Global North/South
In this report, "global North" and "global South" are defined in geopolitical terms according to the United Nations. The global North includes Europe and Northern America, while the global South includes Asia, Africa, Latin America, and Oceania.

Who is a Christian?
The World Christian Database defines "Christians" as "followers of Jesus Christ of all kinds; all traditions and confessions; and all degrees of commitment." Christians are enumerated in two primary ways: first, from the point of view of the state, society at large, or the general public, such as in government censuses or public opinion polls; and second, from the perspective of the churches, where denominations report membership figures (usually including children)


Christianity in its Global Context, 1970-2020
Center for the Study of Global Christianity

Six major Christian traditions
The World Christian Database divides global Christianity into six major traditions: Anglicans, Independents, Marginals, Orthodox, Protestants, and Roman Catholics. Marginals include individuals who hold most main-stream Christian doctrines but with significant theological differences from most other people who identify themselves as Christians (such as Jehovah's Witnesses and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints). Independent movements are those that are separate from historical denominationalist Christianity (the other five traditions), and exist predominantly in Africa and Asia.

Religionists In this report, "religionist" refers to both religious and nonreligious people (agnostics and atheists), except in discussions of personal contact, where "religionists" means the entire population other than Christians. Inherent in data on personal contact is the assumption that all Christians know a Christian, so percentage figures do not include Christians. In addition, "religious" people are defined as people who are adherents of any religion, not including atheists or agnostics.


Christianity in its Global Context, 1970-2020
Center for the Study of Global Christianity

Renewalists
Pentecostals are defined here as those who are associated with denominations that identify themselves in explicitly Pentecostal terms, or with other denominations that as a whole are phenomenologically Pentecostal in teaching and practice. Charismatic movements consist of Pentecostal individuals within the Anglican, Roman Catholic, Orthodox, and Protestant traditions, designating renewal within an existing tradition. Independent Charismatics are found in churches that have emerged from established Pentecostal and Charismatic denominations and are no longer affiliated with their "home" denomination. Each Renewal movement emphasizes particular gifts of the Spirit to varying degrees, including speaking in tongues and signs and wonders.


Christianity in its Global Context, 1970-2020
Center for the Study of Global Christianity

Global Christianity 2018 Infographic

Follow the link to see more quantitative graphs of the types and locations of Christians around the world.


What's at stake? Why does this matter?

  • Mission
  • Liturgy
  • Renewalists
  • Economic inequality
  • Bible interpretation
  • Theology

What's at stake?

  • See Mark Noll comments.
  • Different needs and assumptions
  • How can we learn more about others and about ourselves in crossing cultural boundaries?
  • God is a lot bigger than any one of us.

Resources


Tukutendereza Yesu

some worship music



From a comment, we also learned of another website with a wealth of religious statistics.